Friday, April 27, 2012

A co-op can dream, can't they?

This month has been full of exciting conversations with lots of creative dreamers.

I met with one of the leaders of the Austin Creative Re-use. ACR is basically the same sort of program as the Austin Scenic Co-p but its for visual artists. I also had a conversation with a few film industry folks discussing ways and interest in creating a film centric re-use center. The conversations all sort of melded into lots of big dreams about creating a giant creative re-use facility with storage space as well as shop space, studio space, and classroom space. In the next few months I am planning on coordinating a large meeting with the visual arts, theater, and film communities about how we can start to work together to make Austin a greener city with an emphasis on the arts and arts education. Lots of day dreaming and scheming...

The other energizing conversation that we had this month was with the theater companies that currently use the Co-op. We had a meeting to talk about implementing a membership and what that would mean, what it would cost, what the benefits would be, and if people would be willing to pay a membership. The consensus was that people would be willing to pay a membership if our services expanded. People really need shop space and storage space. They want a place for their extra set pieces and they want a place where they can paint and build. The plan as it stands now is to continue with a piece by piece rental structure, and then hopefully implement a membership in the fall, recognizing that most folks will not want to be members until we have additional space to meet their other needs.

With all of this dreaming and scheming the main thing that we have learned is that we need more space. We need a larger shop, we need more storage, we need studio space. There is not enough room at SVTs facilities alone to create the Co-op we want and the community needs... so the next steps are taking a long hard look at what steps we need to take as a community to creating this kind of giant re-use complex that we are all dreaming about...

Jenny Larson
Austin Scenic Co-op
Salvage Vanguard Theater

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A note from Fairview's Principal on collaborating with a theatre

Our relationship with Northlight has come at a good time because I have very open teachers who see the value of having studentsparticipate in theatre workshops and attend professional theatricalperformances. Without buy-in from theteachers who will be asked to coordinate events and miss students for normalclasses, the success of our program would not have been as great. I think that it was critical to be involvedas the Principal to select lead teachers who I knew would be receptive to thistype of experience and would view it as a great opportunity for the studentsrather than an encumbrance on their curriculum.

The students at Fairview have greatly enjoyed the chance to be creative in a purposeful way when the artists have come on-site to discuss the plays and play several acting games. Each time, the kids are very active and I am surprised by the students who step up in this setting. Some times this has been the student who behaves timidly in the classroom, but can open up in a more creative environment. Each time our students have gone to see a production at Northlight, they are not only experiencing professional theatre, but building etiquette skills on how to purport themselves in this type of environment. Hopefully, events such as these, early on in their education life will spur a life-long appreciation for the theatre.

Finally, Fairview has a tremendous auditorium facility with updated sound and lighting systems. For the previous 15 years, the space had been dormant when it came to developing a middle school theatre production. This was viewed as a gaping hole in our otherwise robust extracurricular offerings. With the help of Northlight,we are in the second year of Northlight on Campus. This group has opened up a vehicle of school participation for an entire new sub-group of students and we are anxiously awaiting their second production in April of this year. The artists who have led this group have been wonderful to work with and have developed high quality experiences for the students. We have been extremely pleased with the relationships formed with students and the type of training received by participants.

-David Russo
Middle School Principal
Fairview South School, Skokie, IL